“Easter” was Patti Smith’s third studio album. Released in March 1978 it is often seen as her “breakthrough” album, mainly due to the inclusion of the single “Because The Night” (a co-write with Bruce Springsteen) that had reached number 5 in the UK singles charts earlier in that same month.
The year before in early 1977, the Patti Smith Group had been touring their previous release “Radio Ethiopia” with The Bob Seger Band when, during a show in Florida, Patti had lost her balance, tripped over a monitor and fallen 15ft onto a concrete floor below. Her resulting injuries included broken bones, a cut to her head and damage to her vertebrae.
Smith interpreted the incident as God’s response to her constant challenges,
“I feel it was his way of saying, ‘You keep battering against my door and I’m gonna open that door and you’ll fall in” she told Melody Maker in 1978
Smith’s injuries confined her to bed, and then onto a course of physical therapy, reporting back to her therapists that she would be ready by Easter. Smith already knew that the next album would have to have a degree of commercial success to allow the band to proceed, and after choosing Bruce Springsteen’s engineer Jimmy Iovine to produce, Patti came round to the idea of rewriting the lyrics to one of Springsteen’s demo out-takes. The resulting track “Because the Night” became the single around which the album could be based, it gave the album a more accessible feel, and provided Smith with her first top twenty hit.
Despite there being no reference to chocolate eggs or bunnies, “Easter” is suitably peppered with religious references (and swearing), and the album artwork even also included a First Communion portrait of the 19th century French poets Frederic and Arthur Rimbaud. Smith’s notes for the song “Easter” invoke Catholic imagery of baptism, communion and the blood of Christ. A solitary hand-drawn cross is placed below the group member credits on the sleeve insert, and the last sentence of the liner notes is a quote from Second Epistle to Timothy 4:7 — “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course …” reportedly, the last words of Paul the Apostle.
Still no mention of chocolate though.
The album was generally well received, Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone called it “transcendent and fulfilled, and its radiance must be honoured”, Lester Bangs, on the other hand, began his review of the album, “Dear Patti, start the revolution without me”…
But Easter really was a revolution of sorts, and “Because the Night” introduced Patti to a whole new audience, including teenage girls who now had another new role model. Commercial success, for once, never succeeded in diluting Patti, she was always the Godmother of Punk, but for some of us, her album Easter eased her into our lives and helped to connect the dots that ran from the Velvet Underground, and MC5, right through to The Stooges and Television.
Easter reached No. 16 on the UK album chart and received a silver disc for sales of 60,000